Archive for the ‘2011’ Category

Saturday – Genealogy in Black & White and Blue & Gray

Saturday, November 5th, 2011

Saturday’s portion of Got Ancestors?! 2011 was “Genealogy in Black & White and Blue & Gray” and consisted of 4 fascinating sessions from a GREAT presenter.

Tony’s topics were:

  1. The Nature of Genealogy
  2. The Six Phases of African American Genealogy
  3. Did Your Ancestor Serve in the Civil War
  4. Creating Order Out of Chaos

A couple of highlights of the day – attendee Jeanne Jones celebrated her 91st birthday with us, the youngest attendee was a 2 month old, and Tony Burroughs got to catch up with a grade school friend of his from Chicago – Al Odom now lives in Kalamazoo, Michigan.

Jeanne Jones celebrated her 91st birthday with us today - with long time friend Tony Burroughs.

Jeanne Jones celebrated her 91st birthday with us today - with long time friend Tony Burroughs.


Friday Night – Voices of Freedom

Friday, November 4th, 2011

Friday night’s part of Got Ancestors?! Genealogy in Black & White and Blue & Gray was “Voices of Freedom: African American Soldiers in the Civil War”.

It was a great presentation, with Tony Burroughs providing many recollections of African Americans who fought in the Civil War and had their recollections recorded – whether in Pension Applications, or letters to newspapers, even in books.

Tony Burroughs in full song

Tony Burroughs in full song

The evening started off with punch and nuts and mints and mingling, then the presentation got underway at 7pm. We finished up with Coffee/Tea/Punch and Mini-Desserts.


Friday, November 4th, 2011

Today’s the Day…

I’ve updated the Door Prizes page with the final list of prizes available

THANK YOU to all those who have provided prizes

Inside the Last Week

Saturday, October 29th, 2011

Well there’s less than a week to go until this year’s event with Tony Burroughs.

The forecast is looking OK

Forecast from Saturday 29 Oct to Saturday 5 November

Forecast from Saturday 29 Oct to Saturday 5 November

so your travel should be weather-troube free.

If you haven’t registered yet, it’s not too late to get your tickets to what will be a GREAT weekend.

Door Prizes 2011

Thursday, October 20th, 2011

A listing of the door prizes available to date is shown here

Some of these alone are worth more than the cost of attending the Got Ancestors?! Seminar.

And remember – you can’t win if you’re not there!!!

It’s not too late to register yet – go to to register online.

PSA on Grand Rapids Community TV (GRTV)

Friday, September 30th, 2011

Below is the text of a Public Service Announcement that Community TV Channel 25 on Comcast in Grand Rapids will be showing twice a day (8:30am and 10:00pm) for the next 5 weeks.

I’m Roger Moffat with the Western Michigan Genealogical Society, and organiser of our annual Got Ancestors seminar.

WMGS has been based in Grand Rapids since 1954, and we have maintained a close relationship with the Grand Rapids Public Library during this time.

For the last 4 years we have held our annual Got Ancestors seminar at the Prince Conference Center at Calvin College, featuring nationally recognised speakers from the genealogy community across the United States.

This year our speaker is Tony Burroughs of Chicago. Tony is one of the nation’s leading researchers, speakers and authors on African American genealogy as well as topics of general genealogical interest.

For many years my wife’s family knew that her great great grandfather had lost a leg in the Civil War. But that was about all they knew – not even his first name was known.

But slowly through research we have learned that Frederick Heinrich Tonsing was an immigrant who enlisted for the Union side in the Civil War in Cleveland less than 5 years after arriving from Germany. He was shot in the leg at the Battle of Gettysburg and had that leg amputated right there, probably without anaesthetic.

Since then we’ve walked the Gettysburg battlefield, possibly within a few yards of where he was shot that day in 1863. We’ve been to the National Archives in Washington DC and seen his 100 page pension file – which showed he spent much of the remaining 40 years of his life arguing with the Government about his condition and treatment.

How exciting to have been able to visit the places he served in the Civil War, and to hold and read the letters he wrote to the Government more than 120 years ago!

2011 is the 150th anniversary of the start of the Civil War and the topics we’ve chosen to have Tony present at this year’s seminar are particularly relevant to this.

The Seminar is in 2 parts. On Friday evening Tony will present “Voices of Freedom: African American Soldiers in the Civil War”. Many African American men fought during the Civil War, and we’ll hear what some of them discussed in the years after.

On Saturday, Tony will present 4 sessions, 2 of general genealogical interest, along with “The Six Phases of African American Genealogy” and “Did YOUR Ancestor Serve in the Civil War?”

These latter 2 topics, while specific in subject will contain many points that will be of interest and useful to all genealogists and family historians – no matter what direction their research leads them.

Tony once said “I love traveling to places where my ancestors were and walking in their shoes”, and through our researches and travels my wife and I have both had a chance to do this too.

This year we are offering Youth Scholarships to allow up to 20 people aged 15-25 to be able to attend both Friday and Saturday of Got Ancestors at no cost.

Please see our website at for more details on our upcoming seminar – Got Ancestors?! Genealogy in Black & White and Blue & Gray.

Yes – I forgot to mention the date, despite reading this a dozen or more times – remember it’s 4th and 5th November 2011

Youth Sponsorship Programme Announced

Saturday, August 27th, 2011

For the 2011 Got Ancestors?! Genealogy in Black & White and Blue & Gray seminar with Tony Burroughs, Western Michigan Genealogical Society is pleased to announce a sponsorship programme to encourage people aged 15 – 25 to attend the seminar.

WMGS is offering a limited number of sponsorships to people aged 15 – 25 who wish to attend this year’s Got Ancestors?! seminar. If you’re young and interested in learning about genealogy from a great expert, you’ll be able to attend the Friday and Saturday sessions at NO COST if you are among the first 20 qualified people who register. This is a $59 value. You MUST register online if you wish to receive one of these Sponsorships.

The purpose of these sponsorships is to:

  • promote an interest in genealogy among young people;
  • provide a free educational opportunity to learn about genealogy in the context of the American Civil War;
  • encourage an inter-generational activity that young people can interact and share with their parents and grandparents.

To take advantage of this offer, eligible people should go to the Got Ancestors?! registration page and click the link for “If you are registering for a Youth Sponsorship, please USE THIS FORM“.

What: WMGS’ Annual Seminar Got Ancestors?! Genealogy in Black & White and Blue & Gray
Who: Tony Burroughs, FUGA1 – expert genealogist, author and lecturer
When: Friday 4th and Saturday 5th November 2011
Where: Prince Conference Center at Calvin College, Grand Rapids, Michigan

1 = Fellow of the Utah Genealogical Association

More information about the Got Ancestors?! Genealogy in Black & White and Blue & Gray seminar can be found at

Got Ancestors?! 2011 Seminar Topics

Friday, August 26th, 2011

Message from WMGS President – Don Bryant

The events of 150 years ago are an important focus for us in this sesquicentennial year recognizing the American Civil War. Arguably, the Civil War would never have happened if not for slavery. Many American families have direct connections to that hateful institution and the resulting war. For some, there is no desire to learn about the hardships of the past. Others have found where there is suffering there are heroes, stories of endurance, and inspiring examples. It is important to learn about our forebears who lived during that conflict, or experienced slavery, or even fought and died to end it. That knowledge fosters a personal connection to history and shapes our self-identity.

As an expert in African American genealogy and a member of the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War, Tony Burroughs brings an important perspective to our annual genealogy seminar. Mr. Burroughs’ background as an educator, former board member of national genealogical organizations, and polished speaker make him an ideal choice to present this year’s GotAncestors?! Seminar – Genealogy in Black & White and Blue & Gray.

We have chosen 5 great topics to be presented by Tony Burroughs during the Got Ancestors?! Genealogy in Black & White and Blue & Gray seminar on 4 – 5 November 2011.


Voices of Freedom: African American Soldiers in the Civil War
How often do we hear from Civil War soldiers themselves? Not often. It is especially rare when we hear from African American Civil War soldiers when most were prohibited from reading and writing. African American soldiers did discuss their war experiences. Hear what they said.


The Nature of Genealogy

A successful genealogist is not one who knows all the records. The Nature of Genealogy dictates researchers must be adept at why records are created, what they were created for, how and when to use them, how they interrelate to the circumstances of their ancestors, and how to execute a successful strategy. This presentation will cover understanding history, research, repositories, records, theory development, results analysis and publishing findings. It is woven around a case study discovering a new ancestor by an experienced genealogist.

The Six Phases of African American Genealogy

This special extended session is an overview of the methods and sources in the six distinct phases that are the building blocks of African American genealogy. It progresses from beginning to more advanced research, highlighting some of the problems and complexities of African American genealogy along the way. It is designed for beginners, intermediates, and advanced researchers.

Did Your Ancestor Serve in the Civil War?

How can you determine if one of your ancestors served in the Civil War, or verify oral history that one served? Learn how to prove your ancestor served and learn how to investigate their Civil War experiences. This lecture demonstrates strategies for identifying Civil War ancestors, provides methods of proving genealogical relationships, illustrates Civil War records and resources, and discusses navigating through records at the National Archives.

Creating Order Out of Chaos

Have you searched in every courthouse, every library, and every archive and still haven’t solved your riddle? One of the keys to success in genealogy is doing more with what you have. Sometimes the pieces are there, we just need to look at them in different ways. Reorganizing and analyzing may solve your riddle.

We look forward to seeing you there!!



2011 Seminar Title and Topics Announced

Sunday, August 7th, 2011

We are very pleased to now announce the title of this year’s Got Ancestors?! seminar with Tony Burroughs:

Got Ancestors?! Genealogy in Black & White and Blue & Gray

The title reflects the variety of topics we’ve chosen for Tony to present on Friday evening and Saturday, with some topics aimed at researchers of African American genealogy, some at beginners, some more advanced and of course in this sesquicentennial year of the Civil War, something about the Civil War. Several of the topics overlap more than 1 of these themes.

We look forward to seeing you there!!!